Tag Archives: Agave nectar

Sugar Free! Key Lime and Chocolate Cream Pies

Two PiesOnce you have the sugar free graham cracker crusts prepared (see my previous blog post for the recipe), you can fill them any way you choose. I tried making key lime and chocolate cream pies because they are such sweet treats for the summertime, and I wanted to take on the challenge of making them sugar free.

For the key lime pie, I started with a Cooking Light magazine recipe that is a healthier version than many other recipes I reviewed. The trick with a key lime pie is to get the right consistency without using sweetened condensed milk. My online research found that heating evaporated milk with agave nectar could work as a good substitute. Adding Greek yogurt to the filling provides some tang and a thick consistency. This pie takes a while to bake and it will continue to thicken once it is out of the oven and cools. Fresh key lime juice tastes great in this pie although fresh lime juice will work just as well.

Ingredients for Filling:
1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice (or fresh lime juice)
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
3 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 cup agave nectar

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine evaporated milk and agave nectar in a small saucepan. Cook on low heat for approximately 10 minutes. Use approximately 14 ounces (or 1 2/3 cups) of the resulting mixture in the filling in the next step.
3. To prepare filling, place yogurt, lime juice, lime zest, egg yolks, and milk/agave mixture in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour mixture into prepared crust. Bake at 350° until set, about 35 minutes. Cool pie completely on a wire rack. Cover loosely, and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream.

As for the chocolate cream pie, I again started with a Cooking Light recipe as the base. I substituted the coconut palm sugar for the cane sugar, and used grain sweetened chocolate (Endangered Species or Sunspire are delicious cane sugar free options) instead of the usual store-bought sugary brands. This pie is delicious and had a light and rich texture.

Ingredients for Filling:
2 cups fat-free milk, divided
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 ounces (cane sugar free) chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated (cane sugar free) chocolate

Preparation:
1. To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup milk, 2/3 cup palm sugar, and next 4 ingredients (2/3 cup palm sugar through egg) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.
2. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Remove from heat. 3. Gradually add hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan. Add chopped chocolate; cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
4. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Pour into prepared crust; cover surface of filling with plastic wrap. Chill 3 hours or until cold. Remove plastic wrap; spread whipped cream evenly over filling. Sprinkle with grated chocolate.

Pi PlateServe your favorite pie in a pie plate – or in my case – a pi plate! Pi (pronounced “pie”) is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter, which is the same value no matter the size of the circle.

Free! One-Bowl Chocolate Agave Peanut Butter Cups!

Good day, everyone! I am delighted by the weather we are having in the Northeast this week – temperatures are in the high 70s with low humidity and sunshine peeking through puffy, white clouds. The nights are cool, allowing us to abandon the air conditioners and listen to the birds and bugs outside our windows. The dress code is long-sleeved t-shirts and shorts – this is late summer at its finest. And our farm share is rewarding us with all sorts of fruits and vegetables…which I’ll talk about later because today I must share with you a recipe that MaryAnn discovered – for chocolate peanut butter cups that are free! They are free from gluten, yeast, dairy and refined sugars – and absolutely decadent!

MaryAnn found the original recipe for Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and made a batch that we tried. They were so melt-in-your-mouth good that I decided to make them soon after for a picnic. I made a few minor changes. First of all, I doubled the recipe. These treats are too good to just make a small batch. Plus you can freeze them and pull them out whenever you get a craving for that fabulous combination of chocolate and peanut butter. I used agave nectar instead of honey, but as I have noted below you can use either interchangeably. And lastly, the directions mention either using a food processor or bowl and whisk to mix the ingredients together – I just stirred them for great results – why bother pulling out the appliances if you don’t need to? This is a fabulous concoction using only five ingredients, no baking or cooking is necessary, and the results are fantastic!

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut oil (slightly melted, but not hot)
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup natural peanut butter, softened
1/2 cup agave nectar (or honey)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:
Prepare muffin pans with 24 muffin liners.

Put all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is smooth and nicely combined. (It will be very liquidy.)

Pour the liquid fudge into the prepared muffin liners dividing evenly between them (about two tablespoons of mixture in each).

Place the muffin pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes (or in the freezer for 10 minutes) until hardened.

Remove the muffin liners from the pans and enjoy! Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free…and am happy to be featured too!

He Can Enjoy His Flourless Chocolate Cake and I Can Eat it Too!

This past week we enjoyed celebrating SensitiveHusband’s birthday. We had a wonderful time going out to dinner with family, taking a day off from work, giving gifts, and making a special birthday cake. My husband enjoys cakes that ooze with gooey, fudgy, chocolatey goodness – and I decided that creating a flourless chocolate cake would meet all of his favorite criteria (plus, I would really like it too). I started with a recipe that was originally developed by Gourment Magazine in November 1997 and revised by the Baking Bites blog last year. I liked this recipe because it only required six ingredients that already resided in my pantry and a double boiler was not needed. It looked like it would be relatively simple to remove the cane sugar. In fact, this cake was relatively easy to create. Top with fresh whipped cream and fruit, or just eat plain. It is delicious cold, at room temperature, and warmed, and it also freezes well. SensitiveHusband noted, “it was rich, delicious and decadent – it was a wonderful birthday cake.” Goal accomplished – he had his birthday cake and I enjoyed it too!

Ingredients:

4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (Endangered Species has a brand that is gluten and cane sugar free)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper and lightly grease.

In a small saucepan, melt together chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until very smooth.
Pour warm chocolate mixture into a medium mixing bowl with agave nectar. Whisk to combine. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each has been fully incorporated to add the next, then mix in vanilla extract. Add cocoa powder into the bowl and whisk until well-combined.

Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes.

Allow cake to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert onto a serving platter. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8-10.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine, Simple Living with Diane Balch and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Thank you, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, for featuring my recipe!

Happiness is Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Cake

Happy birthday indeed! I enjoyed a wonderful weekend with visits, calls and cards from my family and friends. I also was treated to a delicious dinner out with my grandmother, MIL, FIL and SensitiveHusband. After the meal we drove back to our house for dessert…that SensitiveHusband baked! Not only was the cake delicious, it was free of cane sugar, yeast, and all of my other “sensitive” ingredients. I think cake tastes even better when someone else bakes it, don’t you agree?

SensitiveHusband perused my recipes and decided on the Chocolate Agave Cake with the Honey Peanut Butter Frosting. What a delicious combination! The cake was extremely light and moist and the frosting was fluffy. Good thing I have a bit left…I look forward to having another piece.

What is your favorite dessert? There is one week left to take the poll on my home page. Simply click your favorite dessert and then click “vote.”

Chocolate Agave Cake
Ingredients:
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one nine-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the agave nectar, egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Honey Peanut Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/8 cup peanut butter
1/2 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/3 cup honey

Preparation:

Cream butter and peanut butter. Add the water, salt, and vanilla and cream again. Slowly add the honey and beat until creamy.

Please note: refrigerate the butter creams if either becomes too runny to use for frosting. A few minutes in the cool temperature will correct the consistency.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Food Trip Friday and Simple Living.

Continuing the Celebration with Chocolate Chip Cookie 2.0

This week I have been celebrating my blog’s one year anniversary. It has been fun to think about all of the new foods I have tried and shared, and my favorite recipes that I have revised. One year ago I posted my first recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It was a wonderful recipe that substituted the refined sugars with natural sweeteners. Since then I have made that recipe dozens of times because I like to have a steady supply of dessert in the house. There is something quite nice about kicking back at the end of the day with a homemade cookie.

At first I was only concerned with getting the refined sugars out of the cookies. Over the past year I have tinkered with the ingredients – how could I add nutrients? Reduce saturated fats? Reduce gluten? Make them fluffier? Well, I think I have managed to update last year’s version – I removed one stick of butter and added applesauce, used some oat flour to reduce the overall gluten amount, let the butter soften naturally for a lighter texture, used my own homemade vanilla extract for added flavor, and added some more chocolate chips (I really tested the last point thoroughly). I hope you enjoy this recipe. Have a nice day!

Mix Dry and Set Aside: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt

Mix Until Creamy: 1 stick softened butter, 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add to Creamy Mixture: 2 eggs

Then Add to Creamy Mixture: the dry mix (noted above)

Then Stir In: 1 bag grain-sweetened chocolate chips plus a “few extra” (I like Sunspire brand)

Drop tablespoonfuls of batter onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-11 minutes.

Enjoy!

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and Food Trip Friday.

Vanilla Pudding Squares with Whipped Cream and Pistachios

My colleague, Steve, has made pistachio squares for office functions over the past number of years. Last week, in preparation for my company’s dessert potluck, I asked him if he would share the recipe so I could see if I could make it without refined sugar. When he showed me the recipe, I started to get excited, because I could easily make the crust, cream cheese and whipped cream layers. As for the pudding…how could I make it without cane sugar? I was puzzled. I found a recipe for vanilla pudding and decided to give it a go.

My first batch looked like sweet milk…it never solidified. Hmm…I was stumped. So I tried again, this time using a bit more cornstarch and stirring the warm mixture on the stove for much longer. Within one hour in the fridge I had pudding! Instead of making pistachio-flavored pudding I stuck to the basics and created the vanilla version although I added chopped pistachios in the second layer and on the top. I enjoyed the result – it was nice and sweet with pudding and whipped cream and a nice crust. Thanks, Steve, for the original recipe that inspired this version!

Here are a few cooking notes: Make the vanilla pudding (third layer) first. While it is chilling, bake the crust (first layer) and allow to cool. Next, make the whipped cream (for the second and fourth layers) and then chop the pistachios (for the second layer and topping). Once all of these pieces are made and cooled, assemble the layers and voila – vanilla squares with pistachios!

First Layer (Crust):
Mix 2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 cup melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to fully cool before layering.

Second Layer:
Blend 8 ounces of cream cheese with 2/3 cup agave nectar, 1 cup homemade whipped cream (see fourth layer for instructions) and 1/3 cup chopped pistachios.

Third Layer (Homemade Vanilla Pudding):
In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 2 cups milk until bubbles form at edges. In a bowl, 1/3 cup agave nectar, 4 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pour into hot milk, a little at a time, whisking to dissolve. Continue to cook and stir until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon butter. Chill completely (about one hour); add as the third layer.

Fourth Layer (Homemade Whipped Cream):
Blend 1 pint whipping cream, 1/4 cup agave nectar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a mixer on a high speed until stiff peaks form. Use 1 cup to blend in the second layer, and the rest as the fourth layer.

Sprinkle with you favorite toppings, such as chopped pistachios and chocolate. Cover and keep chilled until ready to serve.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

One-Bowl Chocolate Agave Cake with Agave Whipped Cream

Have you ever just been in the mood for a piece of cake? And you look around the kitchen in search for a delectable dessert only to come up empty-handed? This happened to me a few weeks ago, but fortunately it was the weekend and I had a spare hour. So I searched the internet and found a recipe for a one-bowl chocolate cake. The name sounded promising, for fewer bowls used would equal fewer bowls to clean up later on. The recipe also showed promise because the ingredients were all things that I normally have in my cupboards. I halved the recipe to just make one round pan instead of a more complicated layer cake, swapped the flour for the whole wheat version, and used agave instead of sugar. While the cake baked I searched the internet for a frosting. Whipped cream sounded good to me, especially because it only required three ingredients.
It turns out that I did have a cake in my kitchen. All of the ingredients were there, it just took a little bit of creativity and some mixing to make the cake a reality. Within an hour SensitiveHusband and I were able to enjoy this great dessert.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one nine-inch round pan.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the agave nectar, egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed of mixer. Stir in the boiling water last. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the cake tests done with a toothpick. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whipped Cream Topping
Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preparation:
Whip cream until almost stiff. Add agave and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. Spread over top of cooled chocolate cake or another dessert. Top the whipped cream with grain-sweetened chocolate chips if desired.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

Whoopie! It’s the New Year! Fill 2012 with Agave-Sweetened Whoopie Pies!

Happy New Year to you!
May every great new day
Bring you sweet surprises–
A happiness buffet.

Happy New Year to you,
And when the new year’s done,
May the next year be even better,
Full of pleasure, joy and fun.

By Joanna Fuchs

I always get nostalgic at this time of year, thinking about the moments that made the biggest impressions on me during the past year along with hopes for the future. The turn of the calendar marks one year that I have been yeast and sugar free. It’s quite an accomplishment for me, who always used to crave a chocolate candy at 3pm and loaded up on more sugar than I ever realized. With the help of my family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, cookbook authors, blog readers and authors, and so many others, I am learning how to keep my foods and life sweet while staying cane sugar free. And for that – I thank all of you!

And whoopie for 2012! It’s time to celebrate with some agave-sweetened whoopie pies! Have you ever tasted a fresh, homemade whoopie pie? Just picture two chocolate discs, cookie sized, with a layer of sweet vanilla buttercream frosting in the middle. Yum! I first acquired a hankering for whoopie pies when I went out to eat with two friends and one ordered them for dessert. I looked at her delicious dessert and thought, “I bet I could make that.” So I found a recipe and went to work altering it – I used whole wheat flour, eliminated the Crisco and substituted with plain yogurt and butter, and used agave nectar instead of sugar. The results were phenomenal. I hope that you enjoy this recipe and that your new year is filled with sweetness.

For Cake:
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup milk
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Blend the first five ingredients together. Then add the remaining ingredients to complete the batter. Drop by the tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 375 degrees or until a toothpick comes out clean.

For Filling:
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup agave nectar
1 tbsp  flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup warm milk

Beat with a mixer for approximately 5 minutes until a fluffy, frosting-like filling emerges.

Assembly:
Once the cakes are cool, match each with its closest in size. Spread some filling on the flat side of one, then place the second on top. Repeat with remaining cakes.

I am sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday, Cybele Pascal Allergen-Free Cuisine, Sweet as Sugar Cookies, This Chick Cooks and Something Swanky.

Awesome Agave Chocolate Milk

Although I, SensitiveHusband, don’t have any food sensitivities, I’ve come to embrace the use of natural, low glycemic index sweeteners.  I haven’t cut all refined sugar from my diet, but I have greatly reduced it since SensitiveEconomist discovered her food sensitivities.  I didn’t realize how much refined cane sugar was affecting me–a sugar high with higher heart rate and shallower breathing, followed by a sugar low tiredness–until I cut back and shifted my intake to predominantly low glycemic sweeteners.

As a cyclist and runner, I find it important to have a drink that combines something sweet and some protein after a workout.  Research emerging from Indiana University and the University of Connecticut over the last few years indicates that chocolate milk has the optimal ratio of carbohydrates and protein to act as an excellent post-workout recovery drink.  In fact, chocolate milk is as good or better than many of the name brand sport drinks with which you may be familiar.  As a result of reading this research and my pleasant experience with low glycemic sweeteners, I decided to create a chocolate milk recipe that is free of cane sugar.  I started with a recipe for homemade chocolate milk, and I adapted it to replace the cane sugar with agave nectar.  Honey can be used in a pinch, but agave nectar really works best in this recipe for dissolving in the milk and yielding an almost marshmallowy flavor.  While I occasionally have peanut butter and a “no sugar added” fruit juice instead, this Agave Chocolate Milk has become my go-to post-workout drink.

Ingredients:
1 ounce water
1 level teaspoon cocoa powder
3 teaspoons agave nectar
9-10 ounces milk

Preparation:
Combine the first three ingredients in your glass and microwave for 30 seconds. 

When it comes out of the microwave, swirl the glass rapidly in your hand to insure the ingredients are fully mixed. 

At this point, you have a homemade chocolate syrup that can be used for other purposes in addition to chocolate milk (ice cream topping, dessert topping, etc.). 

Top off the syrup with milk, stir briskly, and enjoy a very tasty, low glycemic chocolate milk! 

The next time your children ask for chocolate milk, surprise them with this homemade recipe, and they might not be bouncing off the walls after drinking it!

For those who avoid cow’s milk, I would be curious to know if this recipe works well with goat’s milk, coconut, almond, rice, or soy milk.

This recipe is being shared with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.

The Blueberry Industry and Crumb Bars

Did you know that the U.S. leads the world in blueberry production, at almost 200,000 metric tons in 2008? North America certainly dominates this market since the next largest producer is Canada with almost 95,000 metric tons. Poland is distantly in third place with almost 8,000 metric tons.

The states that cultivate the most blueberries are Maine and Michigan with the Great Lakes State slightly edging out the Pine Tree State. Maine’s lead is in the wild blueberry market; virtually all of Maine’s cultivated blueberries are processed while about half of Michigan’s are used fresh and the other half processed.

The acres of land harvested for blueberries has about tripled between 1980 and 2009. The grower price for fresh blueberries has doubled during the last fifteen years while the price for processed has plummeted. Perhaps this is evidence of the increased demand for these sweet and healthy little fresh gems of goodness?

For those of you who would like to learn more about the blueberry industry, the USDA has a great web site with lots of interesting data like the facts above. If however, all of this talk about blueberries has you ready to eat some, below is a fabulous recipe for crumb bars that I adapted to make refined-sugar free. It’s a great time of year to use blueberries! And if you still have a few fruits left over, might I suggest making some blueberry oat bran muffins as well. Happy native blueberry season!

Blueberry Crumb Bars

2/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup agave nectar
3 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon maple sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together 2/3 cup agave nectar, both flours, and baking powder. Mix in salt and cinnamon, if desired. Mix in the oil and egg. Dough will be slightly crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl, stir together the agave nectar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer. Sprinkle with maple sugar, if desired.

Bake for 40 minutes or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares (about 16).

Adapted from Jam Hands and AllRecipes.

I am also sharing this recipe with Joy of Desserts, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Something Swanky, Food Trip Friday and Sweet as Sugar Cookies.